Professor T is the latest offering from PBS Passport, a dark, snarky, and fun crime drama that has kept us in its grips since becoming available earlier this month. But as one watches the show, it quickly becomes apparent that the eponymous Professor T, Jasper Teerlinck is not only the head of his field, but also a figure of notoriety. It got us thinking – how many other Professors have gone from academic to icon?

The answer is – a lot! The list was so long and impressive that we had a hard time narrowing it down. Here's the short list of professors who grew beyond the lecture hall. And don’t forget to let us know on Facebook or Twitter about your favorite professor – famous or not!

Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
The first name on our list comes as no surprise. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. serves as host of a wealth of PBS’ documentaries – Finding Your Roots and Africa’s Great Civilizations, plus the upcoming Reconstruction. But ‘Skip’ Gates began his career as a professor, first at Cornell, then Duke, before he finally came to Harvard University in 1991. Today he serves as the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and the Director of the Hutchins Center for African & African American Research.

Related: Finding Your Roots | Africa's Great Civilizations

Carl Sagan
If you were a kid in the 80s, you were lucky to have a wealth of educational science shows on TV –Newton’s Apple, Bill Nye the Science Guy… or Cosmos. Hosted by none other than Carl Sagan, the show helped popularize astronomy, and made Sagan a pop-culture icon. But while Sagan is best known for his work out in space, here on earth, his career began in the classroom. Positions included a fellowship at UC Berkley, an assistant professorship at Harvard, and the David Duncan Professor of Astronomy and Space Sciences at Cornell until his death.

Related: Bill Nye: I Took Astronomy From Carl Sagan | Remembering Carl Sagan | Jill Tarter: Carl Sagan Contacted Me

Maya Angelou
Unlike most of the other names on this list, Maya Angelou first came to prominence as a writer, an actress, and a civil rights activist. It wasn’t until 1981 – almost 30 years into her career – that she began teaching at Wake Forest University in North Carolina. But the work was more than another title on her already impressive resume. In fact, her work at Wake Forest had such an impact on her that in 2008, Angelou told USA Today that she wasn’t “a writer who teaches,” but “a teacher who writes.”

Related: Maya Angelou On Teaching | Maya Angelou...and literary lyricism | American Masters: Maya Angelou — And Still I Rise

Elena Kagan
A scant four years after her own graduation from law school saw Elena Kagan teaching at the University of Chicago as an assistant professor. But teaching was put on hold after four years, when Kagan was invited to work for President Bill Clinton as associate counsel. Through her time in the White House, Kagan moved up to Deputy Director of the Domestic Policy Coucil – but Clinton's departure from office saw Kagan return to teaching, serving as Dean of Harvard Law from 2003 on. But in 2009, policy came calling again – and Kagan became a household name, with her election to the Supreme Court.

Elie Wiesel
Much like the other writer on this list, Maya Angelou, Elie Wiesel first found distinction as a writer. Again, like Angelou, Wiesel's work was anchored in the harsh realities of his early life: being imprisoned in concentration camps through his late teens. After the war, Wiesel found asylum in France, and began a storied career as an author, journalist, and lecturer. Wiesel entered the academic world: he was appointed the Andrew Mellon Professor of Humanities at Boston University, as well as serving as a visiting scholar at Yale, and a professor at the City University of New York.

Related: WGBH News: Elie Wiesel's Impact On An Educational Nonprofit

Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
Carl Sagan
Maya Angelou – One, Two
Elena Kagan
Elie Wiesel – One, Two